When I first moved to New York City from Los Angeles a few years back, I found my people! New Yorkers are hustlers. They are always on the move, always on their phones and always working. 60-hour work weeks are standard. Espresso machines conveniently placed in most offices provide liquid fuel for early mornings and late nights spent glued to laptops. For some, this type of grind sounds exhausting. At times, it is. But for driven personalities like myself, the city is also wildly energizing.
Within a year of working in Manhattan, taking early subway rides to work, eating lunch at my computer, and leaving the office after dark had all become a part of my normal routine.
A little over a year later, I threw myself into the deep end of the startup world by launching my first company and working harder than ever. I was grateful to live in a city that supports hustlers- from the late night take out options (Praise the Lord for Front St. Pizza!) to the sense of camaraderie I felt from so many others who were also passionately and, at times, painstakingly pursuing their dreams.
But within 6 months of the launch of Iridescent, while also in the thick of my fullest speaking and traveling schedule to date, not to mention my first year of marriage, I was humbly confronted with my own limitations.
I was double-booking myself, overcommitting to projects, skipping meals, drinking at least 3 cups of coffee a day, worrying about things beyond my control, having a hard time sleeping, and feeling disconnected from important friendships. I was sacrificing my health and knew something had to change.
Great dreams require great hustle. I firmly believe this.
There’s a current wave of anti-hustle sentiment being shared in various blogs, forums, and conventions. It’s a trend that is having its moment. Though I applaud the needed conversations it has sparked around self-care, mental health, and work and life balance, I find it a bit short-sighted. For the first time in American history, hard work is being put into question- with critics, gurus, and influencers demanding it validate its success rate. Maybe this generation was given too many participation awards and not enough coaching. Maybe this generation was taught to idolize the overnight successes when we should have been putting in the long hours of grunt work. Or maybe I am being a bit too hard on my generation, but I can tell you this: The greatest achievements in my life never came quick or easy; they were the result of thousands of hours spent trying, working, sacrificing, and pushing myself.
I believe Heaven smiles at certain hustles- the ones that seek to do good and make a difference. When we work diligently- not out of self-interest- but to honor God, spread the Gospel, and help others, our actions reflect the character of Christ in a world desperate for less judgment-filled rhetoric and more sacrificial acts of love and truth.
A few months ago, my real problem wasn’t my hustle; my problem was that I had neglected my health in the name of my hustle.
Work wasn’t the enemy, but if I was going to continue to enjoy my work and my life, I needed to change my habits.
I started with asking myself some tough and important questions to regain control of my health. These questions led me to reflection AND necessary action steps. If you are pursuing the God-given dreams in your heart while also battling fatigue or perhaps coming back from the verge of burnout, I pray these questions lead to timely revelations and disciplines that cultivate great joy and peace in your life. And remember, you are never alone in the hustle. God is with you. Christ co-labors with you. The Holy Spirit is empowering you. May you work well, live well, and love well. May you discover in new and extraordinary ways that there is great joy, and dare I say, fun, for you to experience all while passionately pursuing the call of God on your life.
- Am I doing things both in and outside of work that I love?
- Am I aware of what I am good at and what I’m not?
- Am I honoring the Sabbath weekly?
- Am I scheduling connection with friends and relationships I hold dear?
- Am I eating well and exercising regularly?
- Am I finding my security and identity in Jesus or the success of my work?
- Am I carving out space to learn and grow?
- Am I actively practicing gratitude?
- Am I consistently praying for wisdom, direction and blessing over my work?
- Am I taking time regularly to reflect and process my emotions and discoveries?